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Shaquille O’Neal’s sister, Ayesha Harrison-Jex, passes away after battle with cancer

Shaquille O'Neal

NBA legend and current TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal is mourning the passing of his beloved sister, Ayesha Harrison-Jex, 40, who died of cancer on Thursday.

O’Neal was absent during his usual post with the Inside the NBA crew, as his co-host Ernie Johnson revealed the upsetting news.

“Basically the big fella, who I’ve described as the biggest kid in the world, his heart is breaking,” host Johnson said during the live broadcast, which also featured NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “He said his world revolves around his brother and two sisters and he lost one of his sisters this morning far too early at the age of 40, from cancer.”

“Trying to put into words the way Shaquille has reacted to this and he’s struggling. And when he struggles we struggle with him because he’s one of our brothers and we feel for him tonight. Hearts are breaking in Shaq’s family and in our family as well,” Johnson added.

Apart from his larger than life persona on and off the screen, Shaq is perhaps best known for the close ties with his family.

“Shaq has a lot of nicknames: The Big Aristotle, Superman — but he’s also the big family guy,” Kenny Smith chimed. “We always see his kids, his family always around.”

“One of the most difficult things about being close to someone and working with them this many years is you get to know them and their family and their friends so you hurt so much more. You have the pain just as much as you have the joy.”

Fans, meanwhile, also offered their condolences for the The Big Diesel on Twitter.